I was thinking that a large portion of members like to write, so i thought it might be profitable for CMJ and the island to do monthly or bi monthly or whatever writing competitions.
My idea for how it would go is that we'd make Improbable island into a universe for people to write stories in. (Sort of like diskworld, where the books all take place on roughly the same world, but they aren't really a series, in that they are all stand alone books) Then whoever's put in charge of reading all the submissions would choose a set number of contest winners, and maybe two or three ranks of runner up submissions that can have any number of uploads each cycle. Then we could put all the winners and runner ups on amazon's Kindle bookstore, charging a few dollars for the contest winners and then just uploading the runner up ranks for free or much cheaper. People who submit something that is a winner or a runner up could get supporter points, and maybe contest winners could get something like a supporter point revenue where every time their book sells they get a portion of the proceeds as supporter points. Or maybe they could get a portion of the money, I dunno. But that's my rambly eyesore of an idea
The idea is the contest winners would generate money for the island, and the runner up ranks would make people get used to coming and looking at our books/generate hype for the island. An example of the structure i was thinking of is:
Contest winners, up to five entries.
Rank One runner ups, as many as are deemed good enough (maybe sold as an omnibus for the same amount as a single contest winner/if you sell the contest winners as an omnibus, maybe this could be sold for a fifth the price or something?)
Rank Two runner ups, again, as many as are good enough. (probably free)
Rank Three Runner ups, all the stuff that isn't that great, but is worth uploading and won't be bad branding.
(So the rank would be the subjective decision of the person/persons put in charge of this)
I like the way you think, Memories! It is good to be enthusiastic about coming up with ways to get the word out about the Island, as well as figuring out a way to support our tea-spilling admin, especially if those ways are creative and harness one of our community's collective common interests -- clever writing. I'd love to hear more of your brainstorming.
There are a couple little hiccups with this idea though. The Island is kind of already a universe for people to tell stories in. (See Exhibit A: the Island's prolific roleplay community.) And though the Kindle marketplace is an ace place for indie writers to maybe see some kickback from what they love to do, I frankly think that the people whose writing would be best suited to such an endeavor would do better for themselves by writing their own independent works and self-marketing and selling on their ownsies. (CMJ's been itching to do this for a while, but the Island isn't in a place which allows him very much vacation time for his own personal writing at the moment.)
Another hiccup is that our storytelling community has a strong history of releasing their works on the wiki here. That means that any works released there are automatically Creative Commons-licensed, and more importantly, freely accessible. Stories on the Island, which is itself not a pay-to-play game, are also freely accessible. Money that we chuck toward Amazon automatically during that kind of contest (which I am, sadly, cynically viewing as a diverted donation) could instead go toward Project Wonderful adverts, or toward server costs, or toward any number of things which achieve the same effect: spreading the word about the Island. Energies that we chuck toward writing these works could go toward other projects as well. Our own writing or roleplaying, say, or learning to code modules in Labs to directly impact the Island, or... whatever.
Other hiccups: creating a canon for people to abide by, consistent cover design, typesetting, the problem of setting up a rejection process (if you've heard stories about writers taking 'thanks but no thanks' letters from anonymous publishers badly, imagine how much more Dwamatic it would get in a small community where you know who's doing the rejecting), devoting management to it, etc.
So. Short version: LOVE IT, love that you're thinking about this, not so sure about it in actual implementation.
Zolotisty pretty much covered most of my thoughts about it. I'm just going to go into detail about one of the things she touched:
All the Discworld novels are by Terry Pratchett. That's the major reason why the Discworld universe is a set of standalone novels. When you have a universe that you're describing, it's a universe that you're creating. And with multiple authors, some authors will have disagreeing views of what should and shouldn't be established in the universe, else you'll get an inconsistency. Novels for computer games like the Starcraft series are written by just a couple authors hired by Blizzard Entertainment and are cross-checked against the lore designers of the game, and comic book writers circumvent the previous canon by making it take place in a bizzaro dimension or simply just making it a different universe with the same characters.
If Improbable Island were to accept as official novels loads of writing by so many different people, CMJ and the mods would NEVER be able to do anything else. Because even the best submissions will still requires constant back-and-forth of, "Your work is accepted as the book to sell, but before we publish it, you're gonna have to change the scene with the Watcher's sweater's ceramic-plate bulletproofing, because I actually have a plan that she'll get shot in the heart later and survive because she's not actually living," and then, "Even though you've changed it, we still can't produce it like that, because the electromagnetic containment field that surrounds her in what you've written doesn't really work well with our post-EMP setting. I mean, I get that you wrote that she created it herself after the EMPs, but still, we had the EMPs to simply remove the futuristic technologies from the setting and make it a bit more classical," and so on.
Ultimately, Improbable Island's universe is written by CMJ. While the canon setting is quite established, it's not really enough to unleash a dozen or two writers to be creative within the bounds of what CMJ intends to have in the universe. They'll constantly go outside and have to be reeled back in, and ultimately there'll be a lot of headache and too much time spent. If you just take a gander in the other thread about Monster Submissions, the submissions have to align to canon. The mods have to spend time making sure that they do that, because submissions often don't align; one of my ideas was pointed out to be the complete opposite of established canon (newspapers are quite common, not rare in this future setting).
Zolo was highly positive, and I'm sorry for being a Debbie Downer. I actually like your idea as well, in terms of getting the community more involved into writing for the game. I have an alternate idea which by no means is more acceptable than yours, I just thought of it and it too should get critically evaluated by others:
Hold a writing contest to choose two or three amateur writers for in-game quests.
It has nothing to do with money, it just has to do with increasing in-game content beyond monsters, and this frees up time for the admin to do other things. Supporter points are of course reasonable to award as well.
These three writers would have to collaborate to come up with ideas for where in the game to implement a quest, then write the stuff out, and both have to agree the quest text is all as perfect as they want it before they submit it to mods, who then reject or implement the quest into the game.
Does that sound doable and fair?
Re. quest submissions: This is already possible if you submit to Labs (you can really actually just submit raw quest text if you can't code, and go 'uhh and so on day three you get this widget if you meet these qualifications' and someone will help you), but yes, I think that's an excellent idea. I've been trying to figure out a way of collabing with CMJ and Emily to produce a creative best practices document for a little while, which would be useful for monster submissions, quest writing, and, eventually, a super awesome extremely cool feature which will require some player hires, so to speak. So, that's the only thing that I'd really want to be in place before we ever established a little team of unofficial content writers.
My favorite shared world is the Lovecraftian Cycles. if you look here, you can see his prolific body of work. Looking at the Heading "Lovecraft's works" on that page, You see fiction, Poetry, and Letters, all three of which contribute to the body. While not all of his letters, poems, and stories are from the mythos, a significant portion of them are. The letters are the "bible" Sessine referred to, a lot of them contain clarifications, further details, and items he couldn't fit within the story.
As to the shared world part, his stories are everywhere. Alien, for example, is inspired by, and considered by some a part of, Lovecraft's world. Look around, there's a lot more.
I like this idea, I really do. I doubt it'll make money, but at least it'll make an interesting read.
It reminds me of Machine of Death, which has just one simple rule. A machine predicts the way you'll die. Sometimes vague, always accurate. That works, because there is no other canon. Each story is on its own. It's quite fascinating, and anyone can enter.
I guess what I'm saying is.. Why focus these short stories on the main characters from the island? My dwelling has a tale about Crazy Audrey, Deity of Choice fleshed out the village klutz that bumps into you in his Winking Eye Apartments.
Tell me a tale about Dave (the one who takes your Nudity-armour away, applies duct tape and welds it, and then your weapon is blessed). Tell me about the one that's manning the camera's. Or the Implant Doctor.
Why not off-island? How does the TV-show affects peoples life? It's part Truman Show, part Big Brother, part Lost, part survival show.
How did the EMP affect people? How the hell do people watch TV in the first place? (plothole, anyone?)
I just found out MoD was started by Ryan North, of Dinosaur Comics. I shouldn't advertise for him, since his team is beating us on the WCG and CMJ owes him 2 whole dollars because of it. But he's a stand-up guy and helping cure cancer, so I'll let that one slide.
So first off thank you to everyone for the feedback, especially Zolotisty and Sessine, it's really cool being somewhere where even people who are new get their ideas considered and responded to, and it's even colder that it happened so quickly . I've been in groups where we were just starting, and the mate starting it had known us for a couple years already, and he (apparently) never gave suggestions as much thought as any of you, even ones that had multiple people agreeing to them. You guys came up with all of this in a couple of days. No worries at all about being a 'Debbie Downer' either, since it isn't like you're just emptying your chamber pot on the idea (so to speak), you're actually pointing out things that would need to be pointed out.
Now on to the actually feedback.
Some of the points raised i was already vaguely worried about, (how to sort out what was cannon and what to take as a central building block of common truths, the amount of time it would take to read everything assuming this was popular enough to be any use) but i figured smarter heads than my own would figure them out. I hadn't thought about the Creative Commons-licensed thing, am honestly am pretty sure i still don't understand it. (Which isn't to criticize Zolotisty's post at all. My lack of understanding not (his?Her? terribly sorry) poor writing.) Gosh i already have more parentheses in this post than i should...
My thoughts were that i hadn't been here long enough to know the cannon, but that it was still out there somewhere. I guess this was wrong? Then other than that, I got around all my problems by saying none of it would be strictly canon, which doesn't really make the stories in the same universe but that in general it would be like Maniak was saying, where we each did our own stories off on our own bits of the island, and any inconsistencies could be explained anyways as 'Huh! lookit that! How improbable is that guys, right?' which is really pretty silly when you say it out loud. Basically I was thinking it would end up as a bunch of books set in a similar time/tech period, and that whoever was put in charge (i thought it would have to be a member or group of members since there would (hopefully) be so much stuff) of ranking the submissions would just be like a review so once we hooked people they would keep coming back since they trusted the books to be decent because of their rank, sort of like a publishing company where you trust the book not to be too shoddy if they got published by a decent company. It would probably make more sense to just call it an Improbable Press book or something though, wouldn't it.
Anywho, how're things done here? Do we let the thread fade into obscurity, or do i request that it gets closed or something entirely different?
I've long thought a sort of Improbable Island 'Machine of Death' storybook would be cool. Just a place to take alot of the fun stories from the Island and package them into something easy to read, ideally to help support the Island itself (CMJ etc).
It would be difficult to make consistent, but the Machine of Death book isn't consistent. It's just a compilation of ideas based on one small idea. And it's pretty great really.
I personally would love to see a clean compiled version of Island funtimes...even if it didn't go on amazon or something, just because it would be a nice way to share all the great stories we have going on here.
'course then someone would have to DO it.
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